BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Efforts to provide information on quality of providers assume that consumers and patients are able to use information effectively to guide their decisions. We conducted a narrative literature review to better understand how consumers use information on quality to ultimately select a provider.
METHODS: We used Berwick's Pathways to Quality Improvement Framework to guide a narrative literature review to synthesize past research on consumer choice and to identify and evaluate factors affecting provider selection.
RESULTS: Reviewed articles reflected factors affecting provider selection, including: information needs, content and delivery of information, use and engagement with information, and social and behavioral mechanisms, such as trust. We also identified gaps in the literature for further study (eg, loyalty to physicians) that have been identified as important for optimal decision-making but are not well explored in the literature.
DISCUSSION: Health care providers and managers can learn from a more complete model of consumers' selection process to systematically evaluate and improve service provision and information for consumers. Administrators and providers may consider using patient feedback to identify ways to improve their quality and should streamline information for consumers to facilitate thorough, informed decision-making.